- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2012

It started with a trip to Williamsport, Pa., in 2002 when a team from Fort Worth, Texas, advanced to the Little League World Series.

At 12 years old, the 5-foot-4, 107-pound Rand Ravnaas played in the outfield on one of baseball’s most celebrated stages.

“While we were there, being 12, we didn’t really realize how big it was,” Ravnaas said. “When we got home we saw how many fans we had and how many people were actually following us.”

Now at 6-2 and 205 pounds, the Georgetown senior reflects on that summer as a pinnacle moment in his baseball career.

“After that, I kind of realized that baseball was what I wanted to do,” he said.

Since being a part of that memorable squad, Ravnaas has played on teams with far quieter seasons. That has never discouraged him, though.

The Hoyas finished just 5-21 in Big East play last season (23-33 overall). Despite coming in at the bottom of the conference, Ravnaas grabbed the attention of major league scouts with a team-high .352 batting average, which ranked sixth in the Big East. He also led Georgetown in hits (75), doubles (18), slugging percentage (.545), on-base percentage (.399), and stolen bases (26). Ravnaas tied for the lead in triples (four) and home runs (five), and was second on the team with 37 RBI.

Those numbers prompted the Pittsburgh Pirates to select him in the 13th round of the draft last June. Ravnaas had to decide whether to sign or return to school for his final season.

“[Being drafted] has always been a dream of mine and to see it actually happen was really cool,” he said.

After discussing his future with family and coaches, Ravnaas decided to return to Georgetown

“The reason I came to Georgetown was to get the education and to get the degree,” he said. “So once I thought about all of the pros and cons, it kind of made it easier.”

The Hoyas were 8-2 entering Monday’s game against Bowling Green, and Ravnaas was hitting .472 with two home runs and 11 RBI.

“It’s baby steps this year with us,” the senior said. “Again, in our preseason polls we were projected to finish at the bottom, so we have to prove a point every weekend.

“Our whole attitude as a team has changed. I think us seniors have experienced so much losing in the past three years that we’re just tired of it and tried a lot of different things to bring our team together to push us in the right direction. … People are buying into the fact that we actually can win games, and are working a whole lot harder.”

As someone who leads by example, in just the third week of the season Ravnaas already has been recognized three times by the league. He was named to the preseason All-Big East team and the Big East honor roll two weeks in a row.

While the conference might overlook the Hoyas as serious competition, Ravnaas is going to take advantage of his squad being the underdog. He’s out prove just how threatening Georgetown is.

“People don’t really expect us to achieve or win a lot of games,” Ravnaas said. “And so, I think the fact that they don’t expect that helps us a lot.”

Whether Ravnaas finds himself finishing at the bottom with a 5-21 Big East season, or finishing first this past summer with the Newport Gulls in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, two things are constant: his steadfast attitude, and his approach to the plate.

“Whenever I step into the box, I do the same routine before every single pitch,” he said. “Before the pitcher even steps on the rubber, I will step into the box, say something to myself, and then step out of the box and get my signs from my coach. I always step in with my left foot first. I look at a specific part of my bat and then I’ll take a deep breath and try to calm myself down, and focus, and then I’ll start staring at the pitcher and try to block everything else out.”

Whatever the situation, Ravnaas knows what it takes to come out on top. With a trip to the Little League World Series as inspiration, the senior’s heart lies with the game.